Role of mutator alleles in adaptive evolution

Taddei, F, Radman, M, Maynard Smith, J, Toupance, B, Gouyon, P H and Godelle, B (1997) Role of mutator alleles in adaptive evolution. Nature, 387 (6634). pp. 700-702. ISSN 0028-0836

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Because most newly arising mutations are neutral or deleterious, it has been argued that the mutation rate has evolved to be as low as possible, limited only by the cost of error-avoidance and error-correction mechanisms. But up to one per cent of natural bacterial isolates are ‘mutator’ clones that have high mutation rates. We consider here whether high mutation rates might play an important role in adaptive evolution. Models of large, asexual, clonal populations adapting to a new environment show that strong mutator genes (such as those that increase mutation rates by 1,000-fold) can accelerate adaptation, even if the mutator gene remains at a very low frequency (for example, 1025). Less potent mutators (10 to 100-fold increase) can become fixed in a fraction of finite populations. The parameters of the model have been set to values typical for Escherichia coli cultures, which behave in a manner similar to the model in long-term adaptation experiments.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2012 10:04
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2012 07:55
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